Gov. John Kitzhabers proposed $6.1 million cut in senior long term care services could devastate assisted living centers in Brookings and Gold Beach.

Its gonna be horrible, horrible, said Debbie Bourdlaies, manager of Macklyn House in Brookings. It will affect a lot of people in ways they dont understand. It will limit our clientele. It will limit the choices of seniors. Im appalled.

The proposed $6.1 million reduction in Medicaid payments to assisted living centers would mean a loss of an additional $10 million in federal Medicaid matching money, according to Nancy Gorshe of the Oregon Assisted Living Facilities Association.

Long term care facilities in Curry County and home care clients could all lose much of the funding for services now available, said Brian Larsen, administrator at Curry Good Samaritan Center in Brookings.

The way I understand it now, it will really impact Senior and Disabled Services, Larsen said.

The money from Medicaid is valuable to us. And its not just Medicaid. Anybody who receives any services that provide for home health and guidance may be affected. Its tough, tough, he said.

Bourdlaies said, I understand that we all have to be accountable, but penalizing and attacking seniors is not the way to go.

I hope people realize that. Those of us in our 40s and 50s may not be affected now, but what will happen 20 years from now if this is the way were going.

Ginny Hochberg, Administrator of Curry General Hospital, who testified before the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services, told the legislators that the cuts would jeopardize the viability of the Curry Health District and Shore Pines, the new assisted living facility just opened in Gold Beach.

Assuming a 40 percent occupancy rate from Medicaid, the proposed cut of $766 per patient per month would amount to an annual reduction of $156,264. This represents about 60 percent of the surpluses at 95 percent occupancy, Hochberg said.

She said these threatened cuts in health care dollars can affect anticipated job creation, additional retirees moving into the community, and the availability of health care for Oregon Health Plan patients other providers in Brookings and Northern California have turned away.

Rick Mathis, supervisor of the Oregon Senior and Disabled Services office in Gold Beach said, As somebody on the local level, we do the best job we can with the resources we have.

He said he pities the governor with the difficult decisions he must make.

Stacey Baker, chair for the Oregon Assisted Living Facilities Association, in testimony before the Ways and Means Committee, said the result of the cuts would be devastating to Oregon seniors.

In short, the Governors proposed budget cuts would undermine the progress weve made over the past 20 years, Baker said.

Oregon pioneered assisted living in the 1980s and the state of Oregon both financed and benefited from assisted living, which provides a less costly alternative to nursing homes.

There have been two marches on Salem by seniors opposing the cuts in their health care, Baker said. Neither Sen. Ken Messerle, R-Coquille, nor Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, who represent Curry County in the legislature were available for comment on Friday.